The Songs of Sovereign Shiva: A Contemporary Critical and Prosodic Appreciation of Shiv Tandav Stotra and Shiv Mahimna Stotra.

At the opening session of the World Parliament of Religions, Swami Vivekananda embellished his historic address with the citation from the Shiv Mahimna Stotra as, ‘As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee..’ The seventh sloka of Shiv Mahimna Stotra reveals the liberal bent of mind not only in case of Swami Vivekananda but also of entire Hindu tradition in a very pithy manner. Lord Shiva has been considered as the supreme authority of the universe. Similarly the poetic compositions on the phenomenon must contain the ultimate poetic craft. Wolf Dieter Strol in his book Shiva: The Wild God of Power and Ecstasy exclaims that ‘Who but a fool, be he ever so wise, would dare take on the task of writing about Him?’ Shiv Mahimna Stotra by Puspadanta and Shiv Tandav Stotra by Ravan are among the best poetical compositions ever written for any mythological or religious character. The use of poetical devices along with unique patterns of rhyming put these Stotras on the undisputable paragon of poetry writing. One can apply various contemporary theoretical evaluations on these Stotras to prove the eternal beauty of them. The unbiased poetic evolutions of theses compositions from Modernism to Deconstruction theory would be an experience to explore the richness of Sanskrit poetic tradition. The analysis would try to explore the deeply rooted and highly pregnant meanings embedded in these Stotras. The analysis would ultimately lead us for impartial poetic evaluation and actual realization of the Sanskrit Literature for contemporary literary world.

As we have discussed earlier the above mentioned both the texts can be evaluated in the context of contemporary contexts. It becomes not only interesting but also enlightening on the part of poetical appreciation. One can apply the new critical, marxist, post structuralist, post modern, deconstructionist as well as eco critical approaches as a part of major contemporary critical approaches. One may apply structuralist evaluations for the prosodic appreciation of the stotras. One can evaluate the applications of prosodic suggestive devices as the part of structuralist evaluation such as internal rhyme, alliteration, cacophony, euphony, leonine rhyme, cross rhyme, oxymoron, onomatopoeia, anaphora, assonance and paronomasia. This method of evaluation would be a kind of a step ahead in the direction of the alamkarasastra as sheldon pollok defines in his aspects of versification in sanskrit lyric poetry as,
The traditional criticism of alamkarasastra recognizes the importance of suggestion in sanskrit poetry. And yet the alamkarasastra fail to discuss certain suggestive devices in the sense there are still avenues open to be explored in the field of sanskrit poetry. The thirty second sloka of the shiva mahimna stotra exemplifies the structuralist way of description to eulogies the greatness of lord shiva in the pattern of modern structure as,
असितगिरिसमं स्यात्कज्जलं सिन्धुपात्रे सुरतरुवरशाखा लेखनी पत्रमुर्वी।
लिखति यदि गृहीत्वा शारदा सर्वकालं तदपि तव गुणानामीश पारं न याति॥३२॥

(O Lord, if the black mountain be ink, the ocean the inkpot, the branch of the stout wish-fulfilling tree a pen, the earth the writing leaf, and if taking these the Goddess of Learning writes for eternity, even then the limit of Your virtues will not be reached.) (32)

Puspadanta as the poet generates the structure of the eulogy with the help of various symbols such as mountain, ocean, the branch of Kalpataru, the surface of earth as the writing leaf and eternal writing by Goddess Saraswati. The stanza breaks itself from the traditional way of poetry writing and constructs an altogether new structure for the praise of Lord Shiva. A Structuralist critic would find it a promising portion to be evaluated.

Similarly the expounders of Marxism would find Shiva Tandav Stotra as one of the most promising work of craftsmanship to be discussed. The twelfth stanza reveals the nonpartisan nature of Lord Shiv as He is have the equal vision towards the people and their emperor, grass and lotus, friends and enemies, the valuable gems and lump of dirt, towards snake and garland. Ravan in his poetical terms reveals that,
गरिष्ठरत्नलोष्ठयोः सुहृद्विपक्षपक्षयोः |
तृणारविन्दचक्षुषोः प्रजामहीमहेन्द्रयोः
समं प्रव्रितिक: कदा सदाशिवं भजम्यहम ||१२||

When will I worship Lord Sadasiva (eternally auspicious) God, with equal vision towards the people and an emperor, and a blade of grass and lotus-like eye, towards both friends and enemies, towards the valuable gem and some lump of dirt, towards a snake and a garland and towards varied ways of the world.(12)

In the fourteenth stanza Ravan goes one step ahead and expounds that the chanting of this Stotra has potential to liberate any human being from the vicious circle of the materialistic life the cast or creed is not the barrier over here as,
इदम् हि नित्यमेवमुक्तमुत्तमोत्तमं स्तवं
पठन्स्मरन्ब्रुवन्नरो विशुद्धिमेतिसंततम् |
हरे गुरौ सुभक्तिमाशु याति नान्यथा गतिं
विमोहनं हि देहिनां सुशङ्करस्य चिंतनम् ||१४||

Whoever reads remembers and says this best Stotra as it is said here, gets purified forever, and obtains devotion in the great Guru Shiva. For this devotion, there is no other way. Just the mere thought of Lord Shiva indeed removes the delusion.(14)

The core of the stanza composed by one of the most illuminate litterateur of the Sanskrit language not only reflects the openness of the devotion but also the equal status and rights prevailing in the particular age.

For the Post Modern analyses both of these Stotras contain exuberant potentials. They provide immense qualities which are directly applicable to the fundamental arguments of the Post Modern mind. The exact applicability and voguishness of these Stotras in contemporary age proves their eternal poetic qualities as the seventh Sloka of Shiv Tandav Stotra exemplifies the Post Modern quality of Ravan as,
द्धनञ्जयाहुतीकृतप्रचण्डपञ्चसायके |
प्रकल्पनैकशिल्पिनि त्रिलोचने रतिर्मम ||७||

My interest is in Lord Shiva, who has three eyes, who has offered the powerful God of Love into the fire, flaming Dhagad Dhagad on the flat surface of his forehead, and who is the sole expert artist of drawing decorative lines on the tips of breasts of Parvati, the daughter of the mountain king.(7)

In his unique description Ravan explains that on the one hand Lord Shiva is burning the God of Love Kamadeva into ashes on the other He is the most Romantic husband to the Mother of the eternity. The harmonious combination of ultra modernity with the age old traditional aspects may compel any Post Modern critic to consider these texts as significant ones.

Lord Shiva is considered as the God of Destruction at the same time He destructs the cause of destruction Yamraj when there is requirement. The deconstructionist critic may find these texts as the pioneering texts which provide significant elements which can be considered as the foundations of the deconstructionist theories. In the twenty second stanza of the Shiva Mahimna Stotra Puspadanta deconstruct the image of Brahma or the Creator in the well-known Hindu Trilogy as,
प्रजानाथं नाथ प्रसभमभिकं स्वां दुहितरं गतं रोहिद्भूतां रिरमयिषुमृष्यस्य वपुषा।
धनुष्पाणेर्यातं दिवमपि सपत्राकृतममुं त्रसन्तं तेऽद्यापि त्यजति न मृगव्याधरभसः॥२२॥

O Lord, the fury of You who became a hunter with a bow in hand has not as yet left Brahma-who, overcome by incestuous lust and finding his own daughter transforming herself into a hind, desired to ravish her in the body of a stag-and keenly pierced by Your arrows, he (Brahma) has fled to the sky. (22)

The unprecedented argument against The Creator and His unjustified act provides plenitude for a Deconstructive critic. At the same time one can find abundance of aspects which discusses the Eco Critical concerns in the Stotras. The concern and evaluation about nature is the need of an hour. One cannot dare to even imagine contemporary literary evaluations without Eco critical inclination. In case of Lord Shiva whether it is His description or attributes everything belongs to Him has strong attachment with the nature. Ravan in his Tandav Stotra explains the qualities of Lord Shiva in the eight stanza as,
नवीनमेघमण्डली निरुद्धदुर्धरस्फुरत्
कुहूनिशीथिनीतमः प्रबन्धबद्धकन्धरः |
निलिम्पनिर्झरीधरस्तनोतु कृत्तिसिन्धुरः
कलानिधानबन्धुरः श्रियं जगद्धुरंधरः ||८||

May Lord Shiva give us prosperity, who bears the burden of this universe, who is lovely with the moon, who is red wearing the skin, who has the celestial river Ganga, whose neck is dark as midnight of new moon night covered by many layers of clouds.(8)

In Eco-Critical sense Lord Shiva stands as the perfect icon for the entire world to be imitated. His vehicle, His clothing His companions and even His companions provides significant examples for the sustainable existence of the entire humanity in the time to come.

A prosodic interpretation of the structuralist school would find both the texts be it is shiva tandav stotra or shiva mahimna stotra as the gravid with excellent poetic devices. Almost all the stanzas of these stotras are beautifully embellished with the ornaments of the poetic devices. The panchachaamara chhanda where each line of the quatrain would consists sixteen lines with the alternative pattern of unstressed stressed syllables in case of shiv tandav stotra. The very beginning of the stotra exemplifies the expert use of onomatopoeia, cacophony and anaphora as,
गलेऽवलम्ब्य लम्बितां भुजङ्गतुङ्गमालिकाम् |
चकार चण्डताण्डवं तनोतु नः शिवः शिवम् ||१||

Jata tavee gala jala pravaha pavithas thale Galae..valambya lambitaam bhujanga tunga malikaam Damad damad damad daman ninaa davad damar vayam Chakara chanda tandavam tanotu naha shivaha shivam. (1)

With his neck, consecrated by the flow of water flowing from the thick forest-like locks of hair, and on the neck, where the lofty snake is hanging like a garland, and the Damaru drum making the sound of Damat Damat Damat Damat, Lord Shiva did the auspicious dance of Tandava and may He shower prosperity on us all.(1)

The impact of the sound and poetic devices has proved it influence in the form of title song of contemporary Bollywood film Bahubali. Similarly the Shiva Mahimna Stotra as well provides significant space for prosodic evaluation. The stanza twenty nine of the Stotra alone provides usage of five poetical devices such as Leonine Rhyme, Cross Rhyme, Internal Rhyme, Alliteration and Oxymoron as,
नमो नेदिष्ठाय प्रियदव दविष्ठाय च नमो नमः क्षोदिष्ठाय स्मरहर महिष्ठाय च नमः।
नमो वर्षिष्ठाय त्रिनयन यविष्ठाय च नमो नमः सर्वस्मै ते तदिदमितिसर्वाय च नमः॥२९॥

Namo nediṣṭhāya priyadava daviṣṭhāya ca namo namaḥ kṣodiṣṭhāya smarahara mahiṣṭhāya ca namaḥ| Namo varṣiṣṭhāya trinayana yaviṣṭhāya ca namo namaḥ sarvasmai te tadidamitisarvāya ca namaḥ||29||

O Lover of solitude, my salutations to You who are the nearest and thefarthest. O Destroyer of the god of love, my salutations to You who are the minutest and also the largest. O Three-eyed one, my salutations to You who are the oldest and also the youngest. My salutations to You again and again who are all and also transcending all. (29)

Yet there are numbers of stanzas which exemplifies the expert usage of poetical devices. The process of such evaluations may demand untiring energy and enthusiasm from the reader but such endeavor is worth doing in the good faith of world of poetry in general and sanskrit poetry in particular. One can find the apt use of poetical devices such as alliteration, assonance, paronomasia, euphony, cacophony, internal rhyme, cross-rhyme, leonine rhyme and anaphora within the duo of these two stotras only. The interpretative elements of the stotras such modern, marxist, post structuralist, post modern, deconstructionist and even the eco critical adaptability of these texts provides fundamental literary exercise to appreciate the work of art in all the possible manners. The further interested investigation in this dimension would open several unexplored avenues for the lovers of sanskrit literature in the time to come.

Reference :-

  1. 1. Narayanan, Gomathi. “SHIVA NATARAJA AS A SYMBOL OF PARADOX.” Journal of South Asian Literature, vol. 21, no. 2, 1986, pp. 208–216.
  2. 2. Kaimal, Padma. “Shiva Nataraja: Shifting Meanings of an Icon.” The Art Bulletin, vol. 81, no. 3, 1999, pp. 390–419.
  3. 3. Stanford, Barbara. “Shiva and Future Shock: Contemporary Insights from World Mythology.” The English Journal, vol. 62, no. 6, 1973, pp. 919–921.
  4. 4. Carl-A. Keller. “Aspiration Collective Et Expérience Individuelle Dans La Bhakti Shivaïte De l'Inde Du Sud.” Numen, vol. 31, no. 1, 1984, pp. 1–21.
  5. 5. De Riencourt, Amaury. “The Eye of Shiva: Eastern Consciousness and Western Science.” India International Centre Quarterly, vol. 12, no. 3, 1985, pp. 299–312.
  6. 6. Helicon, Publishing. Hutchinson Dictionary of Ideas, edited by Publishing Helicon, Helicon Publishing, 2005.
  7. 7. Peterson, Indira Viswanathan. Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic, edited by Indira Viswanathan Peterson, State University of New York Press, 2003.
  8. 8. Fónagy, Ivan, Yuji Kawaguchi, and Tsunekazu Moriguchi. Prosody and Syntax, edited by Ivan Fónagy, et al., John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2006. ProQuest Ebook Central,
  9. 9. Dehé, Nicole, Dagmar Barth-Weingarten, and Anne Wichmann. Where Prosody Meets Pragmatics, edited by Nicole Dehé, et al., BRILL, 2009. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Prof. Lt. Hardeepsinh R. Gohil